Review Index:
Feedback

PC Perspective Holiday Gift Guide 2015

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

PC Components

It's that time of year again, where giving thanks has given way to the season of gift-giving. And what could be better than giving (or getting) the latest technology this year? Whatever your budget there's a good chance at least part of your holiday shopping this season will include some sort of tech hardware, and once again the staff here at PC Perspective have put together some of our recommendations. Sure, we might be biased in our belief that PC hardware and other tech gadgets make the best gifts, but we live and breathe this stuff every day (it's hard to turn it off!).

Our guide is once again broken up into categories, beginning with this page dedicated to PC components. Next up we have one for mobile devices like notebooks and tablets, and then one for PC accessories.  Then our staff members have the chance to throw in some "wildcard" picks on the remaining pages.

We thank you for your support of PC Perspective through all of 2015. The links included below embed our affiliate code to Amazon.com (when applicable) and if you are doing other shopping for the holidays this year we would appreciate it if you used the button above before perusing Amazon.com. In case you want to know the affiliate code directly, it is: pcper0a4-20.

You can also support PC Perspective through your Amazon gift card purchases, and then purchase whatever you want!

View Full Size

Enjoy!!

Processors

Intel Core i7-6700K Quad-Core Unlocked Processor - $431, Amazon

View Full Size

Last year we picked the Intel Core i7-4790K as our high-end consumer desktop CPU, and with a current retail somewhere near $300 (Amazon) it's a fantastic option, and still the #1 selling CPU on Amazon. Going forward the Z170 platform will be the enthusiast standard as Z97 starts to be phased out, but the poor availability of the 6th-generation Intel Skylake unlocked parts (particularly this i7-6700K) has helped keep the new platform from wider adoption. The $400+ retail for this CPU is steep, but there is no faster option outside of the X99 platform processors.

Intel Core i5-6600K Quad-Core Unlocked Processor - $254.99, Amazon

For a more affordable option, particularly for gaming where the importance of Hyper-Threading is debatable, the unlocked quad-core i5-6600K is a very attractive option if you want to get into an unlocked Skylake CPU for a lot less money.

Intel Core i3-6100 - $131.49, Amazon

Having been very impressed with the performance of the 4th-gen Core i3-4130 processor, the move to 6th-gen Skylake will only provide more per-thread performance for a dual-core part that still plays the latest quad-core dependent games thanks to Hyper-Threading.

AMD Athlon X4 860K Quad-Core Processor - $69.99, Amazon

The king of the budget quad-core processors, the 860K provides very good performance that might be a little below Intel's Core i3, but for about half the price it's a sensational way to start a build that will still play all the latest games and provide a good productivity experience.

Continue reading our holiday tech gift guide!!

Graphics Cards

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti (Zotac) - $599, Amazon

View Full Size

At the top of the performance (and price) charts we have options this year from both AMD and NVIDIA. We'll start with NVIDIA, where the mighty GeForce GTX 980 Ti can now be found starting at $599 as seen with the above Zotac variant.

AMD Radeon R9 Fury X (PowerColor) - $589, Amazon

View Full Size

The R9 Fury X is finally starting to show up under $600, as evidenced by the PowerColor version linked above. Depending on your needs (and preferences) this might be a better option than the GTX 980 Ti for the same money, and with the potential to overclock this liquid-cooled card now fully enabled it could soon become an even better option.

AMD Radeon R9 390 (Gigabyte) - $299.99, Amazon

There are a number of reasonably-priced options for AMD's R9 390, and currently the Gigabyte is the lowest at just $299.99 for a card that is finally selling below $300 (if only by a penny). A 390X is still selling for about $80 more that this, and for gaming below 4K this 390 is all you'd really need (plus the savings can be spent on an SSD!).

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 2GB (Zotac) - $169.99, Amazon

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti (EVGA) - $119.99, Amazon

A couple of lower-cost NVIDIA options, these two represent a significant amount of power for the money, and would make a welcome upgrade for existing systems for a great 1080p gaming experience.

Storage

Sandisk Ultra II 960 GB SSD - $199, Amazon (may be out of stock currently!)

View Full Size

While stock status isn't guaranteed for this smoking $0.20/GB SSD deal, this SanDisk Ultra II SSD is the lowest price we've ever seen per GB for an SSD. Prices for solid-state storage have been dropping more rapidly (with the mythical $0.10/GB sounding more likely every month), and while the Ultra II isn't the fastest consumer SSD it's still plenty fast for this much storage space.

The smaller 480 GB version of the Ultra II SSD is selling for $107.49 on Amazon (when in stock), making the value nearly as good for what is still a lot of fast storage space.

Samsung 850 EVO 500GB SSD - $147.99, Amazon

View Full Size

While not as tempting as a value SSD compared to the SanDisk Ultra II above, the 850 EVO is a higher performance drive, and this is a fantastic deal for the 500GB version. $0.30/GB is very reasonable for one of the fastest SATA III SSDs you can buy.

Samsung 950 Pro 256GB SSD - $197.99, Amazon

View Full Size

Speaking of fast SSD's, the current king of consumer solid-state speed is none other than the Samsung 950 Pro, and if you have a compatible system (or an inexpensive PCIe adapter card) you'll be blown away by this drive, which is surprisingly affordable given its performance.


November 30, 2015 | 07:02 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I can build an entire system for what ONE intel chip costs.

November 30, 2015 | 08:08 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Wellll if you wanna play that game, I can get an entire system for $5

November 30, 2015 | 09:03 PM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

Well played. (Too bad it's sold out everywhere.)

https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-zero/

November 30, 2015 | 11:57 PM - Posted by -- (not verified)

except it wasn't sarcasm.

November 30, 2015 | 10:17 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

The AMD Athlon X4 860K (quad core Kaveri sans graphics) is indeed a great budget choice. It has not let me down yet when it comes to budget builds, and when paired with an SSD system performance is plenty fast for more tasks -- even gaming with a dedicated GPU.

November 30, 2015 | 11:59 PM - Posted by -- (not verified)

TRUTH! Great chip, killer price, can't go wrong on a budget box with the 860k.

but........ you must use a dedicated GPU, the 860 has no video.

December 1, 2015 | 12:20 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

Yup, some may think this blasphemy but I've used a GeForce 750 Ti in both those 860K-based systems ;).

December 1, 2015 | 05:16 PM - Posted by -- (not verified)

oh yea, who cares whatever good graphics you can grab for the $$$ I mix match nvidia cards in my AMD builds all day long haah.

860k and a 750Ti sound like a perfect match perf wise.

December 1, 2015 | 12:34 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I could use a new tablet to use about the house. I haven't seen the ASUS' ZenPad S 8 in person. I would wonder about the build quality. Can you easily find protective cases for it or is it relatively impact resistant from the start? People make a big deal about phones being made of glass and aluminum, but if I didn't have my iPhone in a strong plastic case, it would have been broken shortly after I got it and probably several times since.

I was thinking of a dell venue tablet, since the main thing I care about is the quality of the screen, and I have seen several reports saying that the screen is excellent. Some of the other features are lacking though. The AMOLED screens kind of worry me though. I was looking at some Samsung phones a while ago at Best Buy. They had been left in some kind of demo mode, and it looked like they had some screen burn in.

December 3, 2015 | 09:05 AM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

The Zenpad S 8 is a nice peice of tech.  Screen looks nice, fits in the palm of your hand (well, mine at least), and seems to have a bit of power.  The 64GB version has the upgraded CPU, but I opted for the 32GB because of the price.  I was able to find quite a few cases for it off of Amazon as well...

December 1, 2015 | 09:07 AM - Posted by BBMan (not verified)

It's a good job folks. I like these sort of things.

You did great with many of the products like the 850 EVO. I'm not in love with 3 figure headsets, but it's nice to know.

Can I make a suggestion?

Could you expand the list to address budgets and product fans? There are many that are stuck on Apple, AMD and $$$. Perhaps you can expand the list to include those as items rather than waffle on some of them in the narratives. I know it might make the article too long, but maybe have multiple articles?

Well, just some ideas.

December 1, 2015 | 06:32 PM - Posted by Paul Jones (not verified)

Whats the minimum dollar value video card / video card combo to feed a 4K TV at 30 FPS?

December 1, 2015 | 07:57 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

Just 4K video or gaming?

December 2, 2015 | 11:03 AM - Posted by Paul Jones (not verified)

Gaming.

December 2, 2015 | 10:17 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

I think an AMD 390X or NV 980 Ti would be minimums from newer gen. You might be able to get away with an older gen dual gpu single card but eh it would depend on how well the games you play support multu gpu.

December 5, 2015 | 03:32 PM - Posted by Paul Jones (not verified)

Thanks!

December 13, 2015 | 08:01 PM - Posted by David (not verified)

I find my GTX 980 fares pretty well at 4K. I play on a 4Ktv from my Ultra HTPC. Personally I prefer to either play at 1440p at 60 max graphics on the 980, or 4k 60 at slightly reduced settings. A great example is Metal gear Solid 5. It runs great at 4k at medium to high settings and still ooks leagues better than the consoles.

December 6, 2015 | 11:41 PM - Posted by Shambles (not verified)

I recently bought the S710 and have been happy with it. Of course up here it costs double what it does in the USA.

December 7, 2015 | 08:00 PM - Posted by MisterNoisy

That SanDisk Ultra II is a screaming deal in any of its available capacities. Decent (if not remarkable) as an OS drive, but really comes into its own as a place to install Steam and enjoy SSD load times on the cheap.

December 11, 2015 | 03:11 PM - Posted by Marc Couture (not verified)

Am I the only one that thinks that GPUs are WAY overpriced these days? I see no compelling upgrade to my "old" Sapphire Tri-X R9 290X I bought online slightly used for $275...

December 17, 2015 | 06:53 AM - Posted by Ed (not verified)

What is the better $200 tablet the shield or the zenpad
Gaming isn't a factor

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote><p><br>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.